Top Three Storylines that Might Affect the Steelers
- Suspension of belief: I’m going to double your pleasure this week because I forgot my Burfict-Jagoff pledge to use his name and that colloquial pejorative in the same sentence in each Yinzer’s Guide in week six. So, I’m starting off the Week Seven guide with a double-whammy: despite Burfict deserving a follow-up suspension for his cheap shot on New England tight end Martellus Bennett, the jagoff only got a $75,000 fine. There’s your make-up, Steeler Nation.
There won’t be four losers in the AFC North this week. As much as I’d love to say with any degree of confidence that it’s because Landry Jones is going to channel his inner-Roethlisberger against the Patriots this weekend, the reason I can guarantee this is much simpler: the Browns head to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. At best, they tie. More likely, the Bengals come out of this week 3-4 and the Browns prove yet again that they are no better than the third-best football team in Ohio. Baltimore heads to New
YorkJersey to take on the Jets, which could be a surprisingly close game, given how the Ravens have played this season.
- Don’t write off the Steelers this weekend, just yet. The game is in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers still have an outstanding pair of runners, despite having to send backup quarterback Landry Jones out under center this week when the Patriots come to town. Jones has been (sometimes) hot and (usually) cold in his career, but this team has shown throughout the season that both the offense and the defense are capable of taking over games. Of course, they will need all hands on deck this weekend, if this game is to remain even remotely competitive.
Best Game of the Week with No Hypocycloids
Minnesota @ Philadelphia
Not long ago, I had the Eagles as part of the worst game of the week. Since then, Carson Wentz has shown himself more than capable, at least as far as rookie quarterbacks go. This game is going to be a battle, because of a few factors: 1) the Vikings are the better team but have to travel two thirds of the way across the country; 2) both teams have proven to be good on both sides of the ball; and 3) Sam Bradford has got to be wanting to show the Eagles what they are missing.
Worst Game of the Week, a.k.a. Who Even Cares About the AFC South, Anyway?
Indianapolis @ Tennessee
Andrew Luck is still a good quarterback, but he’s in a bad situation. How bad? This is the second straight week an Indianapolis game has been featured in this section. And these two teams are going opposite directions, albeit at roughly the pace of a life raft drifting on calm seas. The Colts are getting worse in a way that resembles a loogie sliding down a cold window in the middle of winter. The Titans are getting better in a way that kind of resembles cooking bacon on the sidewalk in San Francisco in May. And those are the worst analogies ever.
Five Pointless Points
- Warning: NFL Players shouldn’t be left unattended. Laremy Tunsil slipped and fell in the shower. Dez Bryant cut his fingers making soup. Now, I know many of these guys make it to college based on their athletic skills, and some have nearly minimal academic skills. And I’m not accusing either Tunsil or Bryant of fitting into either of those stereotypical molds. But there’s something up with all these injuries off the field this year: either they are being careless, or they are up to shady stuff that teams don’t want getting out into the news cycle. If there is any fire behind that smoke WikiLeaks will probably let us know sometime in December.
- When asked about Le’Veon Bell this week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave what may have been the longest response to a question in his entire life, saying, “Oh my god. Oh yeah, tremendous player. Great hands, catches the ball, very quick, makes people miss. Strong, breaks tackles. Excellent balance. Tough. Doesn't run out of bounds ... Bell's as good as anybody we'll play.” We agree wholeheartedly, Bill. Whether that will be enough to overcome the loss of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains to be seen.
- Jets head coach Todd Bowles took a page right out of the Cleveland manual for How to Run a Football Team (Into the Ground). Following the Jets’ benching of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last week, Bowles said Fitz was still the starter. He backtracked on that Wednesday, indicating that there is a strong chance Geno Smith would be the starter this week against the Ravens. Todd, a word of advice: there are better teams to emulate than the Browns. Just sayin’.
- The quality of this week’s primetime games is surprisingly high. No one is going to mistake what is happening in Chicago, or even in Green Bay, for high-quality football right now, but those two teams always play one another hard. That’s the kickoff for the week. The other primetime games are decent matchups, with the Seahawks heading to division rival Arizona to take on the Cardinals Sunday night, while rising Houston heads to Denver, where Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler could have a shot at revenge for the Broncos not making a stronger play to keep him around during free agency. They aren’t great games, but they are better than some of the others we’ve had so far this year.
- Dallas is off this week, so you don’t have to worry about me spending a Pointless Point talking about Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Oh, wait...dang it.